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Football: Panthers Fall Just Short

By Staff | Sep 18, 2015

(#21) Victor Gronvold and (#50) Blackhawk Jones bringing down a Jaguars runner with (#9) Hunter Hager and (#34) Kade Leier in hot pursuit.

The Rugby Panthers played Homecoming in front of a packed house last Friday and fell just short of coming out of the contest with a win. The Panthers fell, 27-26, to the Northern Cass Jaguars on beautiful fall night.

The Panthers were held scoreless in the first half, but came roaring back to take the lead in the third quarter behind the hard running of Victor Gronvold, who scored from 64 yards out, with Anders Johnson connecting on a 2-point conversion with a pass to Trevor Longie. Not to be outdone, Johnson scooted for 31 yards for the second score of the night, and with the two-point conversion good by a pass from Johnson to Hunter Hager the Panthers were ahead 16-13.

The lead was short lived. The Jaguars’ Brian Screiner found the edge against the Panthers defense and sprinted 70 yards for the go-ahead, score with the Jaguars converting on their 2-point conversion and again taking the lead 16-21 going into the fourth quarter of this hotly contested game.

The Panthers struck first in the fourth quarter. After a methodical drive behind quarterback Johnson, Gronvold punched it in for a score from 13 yards out and Johnson ran the ball in for the 2-point conversion, giving the Panthers a 3-point lead 24 to 21.

Again the Panthers couldn’t keep the lead. The Jaguars, behind the running and passing of Cody Springer, scored with a 3-yard run by Brennen Thompson. The Panthers denied the Jaguars the two-point conversion and the score now was 24-27 Jaguars, with time running out.

This was Homecoming and it is a team coached by Scott Grochow, so the Panther faithful and the players on the team knew that if there was time on the clock, they still had a chance. The Panthers moved down the field with short passes and hard-hitting runs and drove to the Jaguars’ 8-yard line, and that is where the team stalled and the Homecoming became a little less festive. With a fourth and 2-yards for a first down and 8-yards for a go-ahead touchdown, the Panthers couldn’t convert and turned the ball over on downs. This never say quit team held the Jaguars to no yards on their last drive and on fourth down wisely took a safety assuring the Jaguars’ victory with a 27-26 win over the Panthers.

The Panthers ended up with 235 yards of total offense; with Gronvold running for 85 yards, Johnson rushing for 89 yards and passing for 31 yards going 8-13. Kade Leier rushed for 18 yards, and Ryan Michels added 12 yards on the ground and another 17 yards in receptions with 4 catches. Hager also caught two tossses for 19 yards.

The Panthers’ defense was led by Blackhawk Jones, who had 9 tackles; followed by Hager with 8 tackles; Leier had 6 tackles; Michels contributed with 5 tackles; Gronvold and Devin Vetsch had 4 tackles each; Jaden Munyer had 3 tackles; Kaden Jaeger and David Schneibel both had 2 tackles, and Kiefer Gingerich, Johnson, and Kevin Vetsch all ending the evening with a tackle a piece.

Coach Grochow reflected on the loss saying, ” The kids did a nice job coming out the second half and playing really hard. We just had too many big plays go by. We had our opportunities but just didn’t capitalize on them.” He continued, ” But that is all behind us now and the season starts for real with our regional games starting. Everyone is zero and zero again and it’s time to get after it.” He concluded, “These kids have no give up in them and now we need to go out and execute. They have it in them; they just have to make it happen.”

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